A NEW 50mph speed limit on parts of the A127 will begin at the end of this month – two months ahead of plan.

Work to install new speed cameras on the A127 will begin on January 27 and last for up to six weeks, with the new limit coming into force immediately.

The Echo had previously been told the speed limit would begin on March 31.

In a bid to improve air quality in the area, Basildon Council and Essex County Council have agreed to cut the speed limit to 50mph between the Fortune of War and Pound Lane.

Vehicles’ engines work more efficiently at about 50mph and experts say lowering speeds from 70mph to 50mph can reduce harmful emissions from car exhausts by up to 20 per cent.

Basildon Council has insisted the speed reduction is a must to stave off the threat of a congestion charge from central government bosses.

The work, which will take place overnight, will include replacing road signs and installing average speed cameras. Temporary lane restrictions will be in place between 9pm and 5am, with traffic reduced to one lane overnight.

Leader of Basildon Council, Gavin Callaghan, said: “The quality of air in our borough is of great concern to all of us.

“A reduction of the speed limit to 50mph is a key step in bringing a substantial improvement to the air quality in this area. However, if a charging clean air zone was imposed in Basildon it would serve only to damage our businesses and livelihoods and push the problem to other areas like the Basildon stretch of the A13.”

“Many of our businesses are already demonstrating their commitment to improving air quality by altering deliveries to times outside of rush hour and replacing their fleets with hybrid and Euro 6 compliant vehicles.”

Some individual road closures will also be required in order to calibrate the cameras, but details are yet to be confirmed.

Kevin Bentley, Essex County Council’s cabinet member for infrastructure, said: “Reducing potentially harmful vehicle emissions is vitally important, not only in protecting the environment, but also for the health of our residents.”

Air quality is linked to a number of health problems and is estimated to cost the UK more than £20billion every year.”

Find out more about the project here.